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The Next Big Idea

78 EpisodesProduced by The Next Big Idea Club / WonderyWebsite

Think bigger. Create better. Live smarter. Ideas are coming at you every day from all directions. Where do you even start? Hosted by Rufus Griscom, and featuring Malcolm Gladwell, Susan Cain, Adam Grant, and Daniel Pink, THE NEXT BIG IDEA brings you groundbreaking ideas with the power to change the … read more

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AMBITION: How to Achieve Success on Your Own Terms

December 2nd, 2021

44:33

From the time she was in high school, Shellye Archambeau had one dream: she wanted to run a business. Ultimately, she pulled it off, becoming one of …

FRIENDSHIP: The Science Behind Life’s Deepest Bond

November 25th, 2021

46:43

Friends aren’t just fun to hang out with and handy in a pinch. They’re also a biological necessity. Rufus talks to journalist Lydia Denworth, author …

EXPONENTIAL AGE: Everything Is Accelerating. Who’s at the Wheel?

November 18th, 2021

1:05:56

We’ve all seen the meme. Two images, side by side. On the left, a photo of Jeff Bezos circa 1998. His hair is receding, his smile geeky, his sweater …

NEW POWER: How to Spread Ideas, Build Movements, and Leap Ahead

November 11th, 2021

41:55

Colleges, businesses, and bureaucracies have long operated on an "old power" model — rigid hierarchies that rule from the top down. But Henry Timms …

SPORTS: Life Lessons From an Olympian, a Hockey Coach, and a Middle-Aged Beginner

November 4th, 2021

1:02:10

In this special episode, three writers share the hard-won wisdom they acquired running track, coaching hockey, and attending surf camp in Costa Rica. First, Olympic runner Alexi Pappas tells us what her career has …

FEELING & KNOWING: Unlocking the Secrets of Consciousness

October 28th, 2021

1:03:24

Look up the term “Renaissance man” in the dictionary, and you'll probably find a photo of Antonio Damasio. He is a polyglot, an avid reader of …

Bonus: Adam Grant and Annie Murphy Paul

October 21st, 2021

57:24

Our curators — Malcolm Gladwell, Adam Grant, Susan Cain, and Daniel Pink — recently named “The Extended Mind” by Annie Murphy Paul one of the best …

LAZINESS: There's No Such Thing

October 14th, 2021

1:03:01

Are you lazy? Social psychologist Devon Price doesn’t think so. In their provocative new book, “Laziness Does Not Exist,” Devon invites us to imagine …

HOW TO CHANGE: Science-Backed Tips for Becoming Your Best Self (Katy Milkman & Daniel Pink)

October 7th, 2021

51:13

When Katy Milkman was a newly minted professor at Wharton, she came across a statistic that stopped her cold: 40 percent of premature deaths result …

RATIONALITY: Steven Pinker’s Love Song to Critical Thinking

September 30th, 2021

1:01:55

In his new book, “Rationality: What It Is, Why It Seems Scarce, Why It Matters,” Steven Pinker writes: “When humans set themselves the goal of improving the welfare of their fellows … and they apply their ingenuity in …

LOONSHOTS: The Science of Generating Crazy Ideas (Safi Bahcall & Daniel Pink)

September 23rd, 2021

1:01:17

What if the fates of careers, companies, even entire industries depend on nurturing crazy ideas? In “Loonshots," physicist turned biotech …

DEADLINE EFFECT: Can You Work Like It's the Last Minute Before the Last Minute?

September 16th, 2021

46:37

The deadline is one of the most powerful tools we have for getting work done. So why are we all so afraid of it? After studying organizations that …

EXTRA LIFE: We Doubled Life Expectancy in the Last Century. Can We Do It Again?

September 9th, 2021

1:11:25

Over the past century, the average human lifespan has doubled. That astonishing statistic is the subject of a new book and PBS series by acclaimed science writer Steven Johnson called “Extra Life: A Short History of …

PARENTING: Learn How to Do It Better With Science, Data, and Mr. Rogers

September 2nd, 2021

56:13

Every season, we invite the authors of the best new non-fiction to distill their books into five big ideas. Then they read those ideas aloud. We call these book bites, and our app has hundreds of them. In this special …

PERSONALITY: The Science of Being Who You Want

August 26th, 2021

1:07:16

Cognitive neuroscientist Christian Jarrett believes your personality is not etched in stone. Instead, he says, it's made of soft clay, and with the …

JOYFUL: Ingrid Fetell Lee and Adam Grant on the Objects That Make Us Happy

August 19th, 2021

40:48

Conventional wisdom tells us that real joy comes from within: from exercise or meditation, acts of service or the way we look at the world — pretty much anything except material possessions. But author/designer Ingrid …

CULT OF WE: How WeWork's CEO Vaporized $40 Billion

August 12th, 2021

59:48

Adam Neumann, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home (eight of them, actually) and a happy (if slightly hyperactive) disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived forty …

BREATH: Is Deep Breathing the Secret to Long Living?

August 5th, 2021

47:39

We do it 25,000 times a day, but most of us rarely give breathing a thought. Now, though, with wildfire smoke wafting from California to Maine and delta variant cases on the rise, breathing is suddenly top of mind for …

DRUNK: Can Alcohol Make You More Creative, Sociable, and Attractive?

July 29th, 2021

1:11:12

Do we have alcohol to thank for civilization? The answer, according to Edward Slingerland’s new book, “Drunk: How We Sipped, Danced, and Stumbled Our …

DEATH, SEX & MONEY: Anna Sale Talks About Hard Things

July 22nd, 2021

1:10:42

A lot of us run away from tough conversations. Anna Sale runs toward them. For nearly a decade, as the host of the podcast “Death, Sex & Money,” she has been having searching conversations about “the things we think …

THE BOMBER MAFIA: Malcolm Gladwell on Warfare, Audiobooks, and the Future of Storytelling

July 15th, 2021

58:11

Malcolm Gladwell’s extraordinary new book, “The Bomber Mafia,” tells the story of a group of pilots who met on a muggy airbase in central Alabama and …

EFFORTLESS: Embrace the Easy Option

July 8th, 2021

54:31

Teddy Roosevelt once said that nothing is worth doing “unless it means effort, pain, and difficulty.” And to that bestselling author Greg McKeown …

HIGH CONFLICT: How to Defuse Any Squabble (Amanda Ripley & Susan Cain)

July 1st, 2021

49:13

Have you ever lain awake at night obsessing over a conflict with a colleague or a relative or a politician you’ve never met? If you have, you were …

EXTENDED MIND: Want to Get Smarter? Try Thinking Outside of Your Brain

June 24th, 2021

1:11:33

Modern life has not been easy on our brains. Average IQ scores rose steadily throughout the last century. Now they appear to be leveling off. The problem, according to neuroscientists, may be that we have reached our …

DELUSIONS: How Self-Deception Can Help You Flourish (Shankar Vedantam & Daniel Pink)

June 17th, 2021

55:47

Is it really so bad to be a little bit delusional? Not according to Shankar Vedantam. In his new book, “Useful Delusions: The Power and Paradox of …

AI: The Extraordinary Story of the Tech That’s Changing the World

June 10th, 2021

1:08:13

In 1958, a psychologist named Frank Rosenblatt took a five-ton computer, fed it a steady diet of punch cards, and taught it how to recognize the …

MINE: How the Rules of Ownership Control Our Lives

June 3rd, 2021

1:11:23

Ownership is simple, right? Something is either yours or it isn’t. Case closed. But who owns the space behind your airplane seat, the results of the …

GATHERING: Mastering the Art of Hanging Out

May 27th, 2021

43:57

You’ve posted a photo of your vaccine card on Instagram. The CDC says it’s okay to leave your bunker. Some of your friends have expressed interest in taking off their masks, breaking the six-foot barrier, and hanging …

EMAIL: Would the World Be Better Without It?

May 20th, 2021

1:11:32

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning and the last thing you do before bed? If you’re a modern knowledge worker, your answer is probably “check my email.” Makes sense. Your inbox is a busy place, …

WORK: Should You Do Less of It? Adam Grant and James Suzman on the 15-Hour Workweek.

May 13th, 2021

43:29

Our work consumes us. But does it have to? Anthropologist James Suzman has spent decades living in the Kalahari Desert with one of the world’s last …

CODE BREAKER: Why Walter Isaacson Thinks CRISPR Will Change Life As We Know It

May 6th, 2021

1:07:35

In 2012, biochemist Jennifer Doudna and her team at Berkeley figured out how to rewrite our genetic code using a system called CRISPR. Thanks to this …

FOOD: Can We Taste Climate Change?

April 29th, 2021

1:12:24

What’s for dinner? How will we answer that question in 50 years? In this thought-provoking (and occasionally hunger-inducing) conversation, science journalist Amanda Little tells Rufus that the single biggest threat …

CHATTER: Learning to Love the Voice in Your Head

April 22nd, 2021

1:00:28

Whether or not we care to admit it, we all talk to ourselves. A lot. The voice in our heads yaks it up about half the time we’re awake, and it can speak at a rate of 4,000 words per minute. When it gets going like that, …

HUMOR: How to Turn Levity Into Your Secret Weapon

April 15th, 2021

1:12:34

Humor is no laughing matter. It inspires innovation, strengthens relationships, disarms tension, and makes you look smart. Seriously. So why are we all afraid to be funny at work? In their new book, “Humor, Seriously,” …

BEGINNERS: The Joys of Being an Amateur

April 8th, 2021

1:08:42

A few years ago, as he watched his young daughter try out one hobby after another, a thought crossed Tom Vanderbilt’s mind: Why do we work so hard to …

THINK AGAIN: Adam Grant on the Power of Changing Your Mind

April 1st, 2021

1:26:56

We’re taught that the mark of a surefire intelligence is the ability to think and learn. But in his new book, "Think Again: The Power of Knowing What …

VOICE: You Are What You Speak

March 25th, 2021

1:29:21

Sure, opposable thumbs are handy. But in his brilliant new book, “This Is the Voice,” John Colapinto says the voice is our species’ greatest …

THE BRAIN: A User’s Guide to the Blob Between Your Ears

March 18th, 2021

57:59

If you managed to stay awake during Bio 101, then you probably think you have a basic understanding of how your brain works. Not so, says neuroscientist Lisa Feldman Barrett. In this cerebral yet highly entertaining …

SERENDIPITY: Good Luck and How to Get It

March 11th, 2021

1:01:31

In all likelihood, some of the biggest moments in your life, like meeting your spouse or finding your job, were the result of a chance encounter or …

DRUG USE: Is Getting High an American Right?

March 4th, 2021

1:21:41

Every day, Dr. Carl Hart goes into his laboratory at Columbia University and gets people high. That research has led him to a surprising conclusion: …

POST CORONA: Predicting the Future With Scott Galloway

February 25th, 2021

1:05:32

We don’t know when the pandemic will end, but we do know this: while we’ve been stuck at home, the world has been spinning faster than ever. Name any …

Season 3: New Ideas, Same Great Taste

February 19th, 2021

0:57

The Next Big Idea returns on February 25th.

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LET’S BE REASONABLE: Sam Harris and Rufus in Conversation

September 25th, 2020

1:02:27

Neuroscientist, philosopher, podcaster, author, meditation guru, and unabashed atheist Sam Harris is one of our best-known — and most controversial — public intellectuals. In this bonus episode, he and Rufus talk about …

MIND GAMES: What Poker Can Teach Us About Luck, Skill, and Ourselves

September 1st, 2020

48:46

You have to play with the hand you’re dealt. At least that’s what we’re always told. But is it really true? How much of what we achieve in life is …

TRANSCENDENCE: Finding Fulfillment Beyond Ourselves

August 25th, 2020

49:55

You may have heard about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which sees human development as a sort of a pyramid, with survival needs at the bottom, social and emotional needs in the middle, and “self-actualization” at the …

HUMANKIND: Finding Hope in Human History

August 18th, 2020

45:33

Our society is built on the assumption that we’re all a broken stoplight away from reverting to our animal selves. It’s what we’ve come to call “realism.” Historian Rutger Bregman thinks that kind of realism is, well, …

MIGRATION: Why Human Beings Were Built to Move

August 11th, 2020

44:06

Birds do it, bees do it, even fishes in the seas do it. So why do we have such a hard time when people migrate from one place to another? Science writer Sonia Shah presents the evidence that migration is central to the …

PERSUASION: How to Change People’s Minds

July 28th, 2020

46:50

Businesses want people to buy their products. Parents want their kids to eat their vegetables. We all want to convince someone to do something. So we push and we prod – but often to no avail. Wharton marketing professor …

ALCHEMY: How Our Creations Recreate Us

July 21st, 2020

45:00

Since humans sharpened the first stick and lit the first fire, we have been on an innovation spree, constantly developing new tools and materials to …

UPSTREAM: Solving Problems Before They Happen

July 14th, 2020

43:25

We knew a pandemic was coming. We knew our police were treating some of us differently than others. So why were we so unprepared for what happened? …

CIVILIZATION: Recalculating the Price of Progress

July 7th, 2020

47:34

Cutting-edge science, music and art, powerful technology, plentiful food. It’s no wonder we sing the praises of civilization. But do we really have …

TOGETHER: A Doctor’s Prescription for Health and Happiness

June 30th, 2020

44:13

When Dr. Vivek Murthy became U.S. Surgeon General in 2014, he went on a listening tour. What he heard surprised him. Americans were lonely, and it was killing them. In this deeply personal conversation with Next Big …

WEIRDNESS: How to Make it Your Superpower

June 23rd, 2020

42:52

Olga Khazan describes weirdness as not fitting neatly into a box — regardless of what that box may be. It doesn’t just make other people see you as different — it also makes you feel like you don’t belong. But in this …

BOYS & SEX: Coming of Age in America

June 16th, 2020

41:28

Hook-ups, sexting, friends with benefits, ubiquitous porn — sometimes it seems like boys today are growing up in a world of easy sex and mindless gratification. But sit down and talk to them and you get a different …

THINKING AHEAD: How to Make Life’s Big Decisions

June 3rd, 2020

45:01

We all face fork-in-the-road moments in our lives. In his 2005 bestseller “Blink,” Next Big Idea Club curator (and this episode’s guest interviewer) …

LISTENING: What You’re Missing and Why it Matters

May 26th, 2020

40:52

In the cacophony of modern life, it can seem that talking, scoring points, and being heard are more important than paying attention to what others have to say. But journalist Kate Murphy says listening — really …

SUCCESSFUL AGING: How to Live a Full, Long Life

May 19th, 2020

44:56

Even with the COVID-19 pandemic, we're living longer, on average, than at any time in history. So why do so many of us act like our last decades are a time to lower our expectations? Neuroscientist and musician Daniel …

Rethinking Big Ideas: Adam Grant on Finding Balance

May 12th, 2020

48:23

For the grand finale of our stay-at-home miniseries, Rufus talks about work-life balance, the future of education, and the addictive nature of generosity with author, podcaster, and Next Big Idea Club curator Adam Grant.

Rethinking Big Ideas: Priya Parker on Gathering Apart

May 5th, 2020

36:12

In “The Art of Gathering,” conflict resolution specialist Priya Parker writes that “Every gathering is an opportunity to create a world we wish …

Rethinking Big Ideas: The Path to a More Generous World

April 28th, 2020

32:54

Kickstarter co-founder Yancey Strickler has never felt comfortable with an economic system that values short-term profits over long-term human needs. In a quarantine conversation with host Rufus Griscom, he shares his …

Rethinking Big Ideas: Daniel Pink on the Future of Work

April 21st, 2020

39:57

How will the pandemic change the way we organize our days? Our sense of purpose? Our commitments to others? So many questions! Who better to answer than Next Big Idea Club curator Daniel Pink, author of six books about …

Rethinking Big Ideas: On Finding Joy in Simple Pleasures

April 16th, 2020

29:00

Last season, author/designer Ingrid Fetell Lee taught us about joy spotting. It’s the practice of going out into the world and finding ordinary objects that make you feel extraordinarily happy. But what about when you …

Rethinking Big Ideas: Steven Johnson on Scientific Breakthroughs

April 9th, 2020

32:06

What kinds of bold thinking might lead us out of this pandemic? In this lively conversation, Steven Johnson and Rufus Griscom talk about the …

Rethinking Big Ideas: Susan Cain on Solitude

April 2nd, 2020

22:55

Last season, we brought you ideas with the power to change the way you see the world. Now that the world’s been turned upside down, we thought it’d be a good time to invite back some of our favorite guests to give us …

STILLNESS: How to Find Peace in a Frantic World

January 28th, 2020

41:40

What do the Buddha, John F. Kennedy, Mr. Rogers, and Leonardo da Vinci all have in common? The ability to be still and tune out the busy, buzzing …

FREE MONEY: Why Andrew Yang Thinks a Giveaway Can Save the Economy

January 21st, 2020

44:21

Andrew Yang has a pretty bleak vision for the future. The way he sees it, we’re staring down the barrel of a techno-apocalypse. Robots will replace millions of workers. Income inequality will skyrocket. And social …

HABITS: How to Let Go of The Old and Bring in the New

January 14th, 2020

42:32

Why is it so hard to break bad habits and replace them with good ones? You may think it all comes down to willpower. But social psychologist Wendy …

FUTURE: Can We Build a More Generous World

December 24th, 2019

45:33

In this episode, we’re peering into the future with Kickstarter co-founder and CEO Yancey Strickler. He’s got a new book out called “This Could Be …

SUCCESS: The Dirty Secret of Getting Ahead

December 17th, 2019

43:12

Most of us are taught that hard work and talent are the keys to getting ahead. Turns out it’s not so easy. In his new book, “The Meritocracy Trap,” Yale professor Daniel Markovits says meritocracy isn’t leveling the …

TRUST: Malcolm Gladwell on How We Talk To Strangers

December 10th, 2019

38:19

Roses are red, violets are blue, and Malcolm Gladwell has written yet another bestseller. It's called "Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know …

PERCEPTION: Why What You See Is Not Reality

November 26th, 2019

43:16

What you see is what you get, right? Nope. In his mind-bending new book, "The Case Against Reality: Why Evolution Hid the Truth from Our Eyes," Don …

UNCENSORED: What Free Speech Debates Teach Us About Empathy

November 19th, 2019

43:49

As a college student, Zachary Wood ignited a national debate when he invited controversial speakers — anti-feminists, climate-change deniers, and …

CONFLICT: How to Have More Productive Disagreements

November 12th, 2019

40:02

Have you ever had one of those arguments — whether with a friend or a colleague, a loved one or a perfect stranger — that you both vehemently …

CODERS: The Invisible Architects That Shape Our Lives

October 29th, 2019

37:52

Our world is awash in code, and those zeroes and ones aren't as impersonal as you might think. In his new book, "Coders: The Making of a New Tribe and the Remaking of the World," journalist Clive Thompson provides an …

RACIAL BIAS: Why We Have It and What We Can Do About It

October 22nd, 2019

39:45

Stanford psychology professor Jennifer Eberhardt has spent years studying how racial bias affects all of us — yes, all — in ways we don't realize. In …

INDISTRACTABLE: Staying Focused in a World of Distractions

October 15th, 2019

41:45

Nir Eyal’s last book, “Hooked,” taught Silicon Valley how to make addictive technology. In his new book, “Indistractable, he gives you the tools to …

RANGE: Why Generalists Succeed in a Specialists’ World

October 15th, 2019

43:58

You know Malcolm Gladwell's “10,000-Hour Rule.” But did you know that, according to David Epstein, it doesn't work? That's what Epstein argues in his …

Introducing The Next Big Idea

October 1st, 2019

1:40

The Next Big Idea premieres October 15th.

Listen ad free with Wondery+. Join Wondery+ for exclusives, binges, early access, and ad free listening. Available in the Wondery App https://wondery.app.link/thenextbigidea.

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